When the scent of the earth fills up your lungs, the greenerycools your eyes, and you immerse yourself in mindful meditation, reveling in the sounds of nature as you brush past leaves and twigs in a forest, you are experiencing shinrin-yoku.
Developed in the 1980s, Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku is an ancient Japanese technique in which the practitioner visits a natural, forested area and is mindful of all the 5 senses i.e., sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch. In a world run by gadgets,shinrin-yoku involves complete detachment from electronics for the duration of the exercise.
LuxeBook is in conversation with Dipika Sharma, founder of Forest Therapy India, and professional Forest Bathing Guide certified by the European Forest Therapy Institute in Ireland to learn more about this wellness trend. According to her, studies have shown that people who spend more time close to nature are more energetic and have a stronger sense of self. If practiced regularly, forest bathing leads to a sense of calm and happiness, less stress, better sleep, optimized blood pressure and balanced blood sugar levels.
“Anyone can go forest bathing by themselves, however joining a professional forest bathing guide helps you be present in the ‘now’ and plans activities, which help make the sessions more meaningful and relaxing,” says Sharma.
Sharmarecommends engaging in 20–minute daily forest walks, or once a week for 2-3 hours for maximum benefits. A typical session guided by her is about 2 hours. Participants are taken through the concepts of grounding, mindfulness, Qi gong (meditation in movement), and creating mandalas in nature. “We have sharing circles where participants can share what they notice, many are connected back to memories from childhood, many find answers to questions they had. We treat nature as the therapist,” says the forest bathing guide. Every session ends with a lovely tea ceremony.
For a fulfiling forest bathing experience, Sharma shares her favourites,“The Kilbury Forest in Nainital, Binsar forest reserve, the forests around Jageshwar, Mukteshwar, are all lovely trails.”
If you want to experience the peace of forest bathing in a setting of luxury and relaxation, The Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa Resort and Mary Budden Estate in Binsar provide this eco-therapy as part of their service.
The Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa Resort, New Chandigarh, set against a backdrop of the 8,000 acres of Siswan Forest Range and the foothills of the Himalayas, offers forest bathing to its guests.During the hour-long session, guests take a stroll in the forest,experience hot-spring therapy, T’ai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, art classes and pottery, Nordic walking and plant observation.Siswan Forest, where the walks are conducted, is home to giant colourful peacocks, Himalayan bulbul, and a variety of flora and fauna, including the Amritsar gum tree, flame of the forest, and the Indian ash tree.
Speaking about the Mary Budden Estate, Siddharth Yadav, Vice President, MRS Group of Hotels, states that, “At the estate, we emphasize on the notion of ‘Disconnect to Connect’.”Nestled within the Binsar forest, Mary Budden Estate offers an early morning walk that takes you through the dappled sunlight and trees in the wooded forest.Making the experience even more special is Binsar’s exposure to a unique radiation belt, called the Allen Belt. This energy belt is conducive to meditation and its strong cosmic vibrations are known to contribute to mental well-being. Sharing feedback received from guests at the Estate, Yadav says “Since the concept of forest bathing is still not known to the entire world, it is seen as an exclusive experience that leaves people spell-bound.” Responses of guests to the calming effect of the forest include personal growth, a feeling of peace and solace, and even improvements in social relationships.